The Olympus E-1 is the first removable lens digital SLR with a lens mount and imaging system specifically designed for digital. As such it is also the first removable lens digital SLR from Olympus and marks the beginning of a whole new camera system (bodies, lenses, flashes and accessories), the 'E System'. The E-1 has a five megapixel 4/3" type (18 x 13.5 mm) CCD sensor from Kodak, it carries the '4/3' logo on the camera body and lens indicating that it is part of this standard (sensor size and lens mount). The camera system and '4/3 System' has a public history (although in private it is likely to have started much earlier) stretching back to February 2001 when Kodak and Olympus announced they would be joining forces to 'develop digital camera technology'.
The 'E System' & '4/3 System' timeline
- Kodak and Olympus join forces (13 February 2001)
- Olympus to intro 5.1 mp SLR next year? (27 April 2001)
- Olympus confirm 4/3" CCD concept camera (1 May 2001)
- Kodak 4/3 inch 5 mp CCD (31 May 2001)
- Olympus and Kodak confirm 'Four Thirds System' (24 September 2002)
- Olympus 'Four Thirds' D-SLR pictures (24 September 2002)
- Olympus 4/3 Digital SLR 'E System' (2 March 2003)
- Olympus E System from PMA (show floor) (4 March 2003)
- Olympus launches 'Four Thirds' website (11 March 2003)
It's worth noting that Fujifilm has also expressed an interest in the 4/3 system. This standard defines the size* of sensor (4/3" type, 18 x 13.5 mm) and the lens mount / lens communication protocol. In theory you should be able to use a 4/3 lens from any manufacturer on a 4/3 body.
* There has been some confusion about the exact meaning of '4/3', at one stage it was published elsewhere that this referred to the aspect ratio of the image. I can confirm that although a coincidence the 4/3 name was never meant to refer to the image aspect ratio. For more information on sensor type sizes click here.
The Olympus E-1 Key Features
- Magnesium-alloy body with environmental sealing (splash proof)
- Five megapixel 4/3" Kodak Full Frame Transfer CCD (4/3 System compliant)
- 4/3 System lens mount
- Range of four ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses initially available (smaller and lighter than 35 mm)
- TTL viewfinder with removable focusing screen
- "Supersonic Wave Filter" cleans CCD at each camera start-up (dust is shaken from CCD)
- Dual USB 2.0 (full 480 Mb/s speed) and IEEE 1394 (Firewire) connectivity
- 3-point TTL phase difference AF
- Focus-by-wire manual focus
- Manual focus after AF lock available (switchable)
- 3 bulb AF assist lamp
- 3-zone multi-pattern metering
- Program Shift in Program AE mode
- Shutter speed range of 60 to 1/4000 sec (up to 8 minutes in Bulb mode)
- Custom delay 'Anti-Shock' feature (similar to mirror lock-up on other SLR's)
- Continuous shooting 3 frames per second up to 12 frames
- Sensitivity range of ISO 100 - 800 plus 1600 and 3200 with 'ISO BOOST'
- Exposure steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 stop (EV)
- Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV
- Selectable color space; sRGB or Adobe RGB
- Wide range of white balance options, four manual presets, fine tuning
- Hybrid white balance sensor (on external surface of camera and using CCD)
- Customizable image parameters (saturation, sharpness, contrast)
- Noise reduction for ISO noise and long exposure noise (both can be disabled)
- RAW format and RAW+JPEG support
- In-camera RAW Data Edit
- Compact Flash Type I & II storage including IBM Microdrive and FAT32
- User upgradeable firmware
- 1.8" 134,000 pixel LCD monitor with anti-reflective coating
- Control Panel LCD display with backlight (panel also has anti-reflective coating)
- Flash hot-shoe and PC Sync flash terminal
- Shading compensation (removes potential vignetting)
4/3 system, size, lenses and implications
The 4/3" type sensor measures 18.0 x 13.5 mm, just slightly smaller than the size of the CMOS sensors Canon have used in their EOS-D30, EOS-D60 and EOS-10D digital SLR's. That may come as a surprise to some as it can be difficult to visualize the size of a sensor. The diagram below shows the relative sizes of various sensors compared to a normal 35 mm film negative. Indeed what's interesting is that the 4/3 sensor is exactly half the width of a 35 mm negative, vertically the measurement is different because of the different aspect ratio.
The use of a smaller sensor means that you don't need such a large imaging circle (as would be produced by a 35 mm lens), this means you can make the lenses smaller and lighter, it also means that you can build lenses tailor made for the purpose, lenses which should perform better at wide angles.
(Diagram shown to scale but much larger than in real life)
What's probably more startling is the relatively minute size of the 2/3" type sensor used in the two previous digital ZLR cameras, the E-10 and E-20. The other implication of a larger sensor is larger photodiode sizes (larger pixel pitch - a measurement of the distance from the top corner of one pixel to the next). Larger photodiode size makes for lower noise and higher sensitivity, and looking at the table below we can see that the E-1's sensor has a photodiode with four times the area of the E-20 and just smaller than the sensor used on the EOS-10D.
|Camera||Sensor||Total pixels||Pixel pitch||Sensor size|
|Olympus C-4040 Zoom||1/1.8" CCD||4.1 million||3.1 x 3.1 µm||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||1/1.8" CCD||5.2 million||2.8 x 2.8 µm||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Olympus E-20||2/3" CCD||5.2 million||3.4 x 3.4 µm||8.8 x 6.6 mm|
|Olympus E-1||4/3" CCD||5.6 million||6.8 x 6.8 µm||18.0 x 13.5 mm|
|Canon EOS-10D||CMOS||6.5 million||7.4 x 7.4 µm||22.7 x 15.1 mm|
|Canon EOS-1Ds||CMOS||11.4 million||8.8 x 8.8 µm||36 x 24 mm|
|Kodak DCS-14n||CMOS||13.8 million||7.9 x 7.9 µm||36 x 24 mm|
Interesting note for the future: if Kodak could produce a 4/3 type sensor with a 2.8 µm pixel pitch it would have 31 million pixels, so there is plenty of scope for expansion at this sensor size.
Lenses and the lens mount
The other thing that the four thirds standard defines is the lens mount, communication protocol and other details relating to lens, zoom and focus. This is perhaps even more important, it means that in theory a Kodak four thirds camera could use Olympus lenses and that we may see third party manufacturers such as Sigma and Tamron producing their own four thirds lenses. Acceptance and wide ranger use of this open lens mount standard is vital to the survival of the four thirds system.
|Peruvian sweetness by VickyGo|
from street life
|Floating Dice by TX Photo Doc|
|Nautilus Sliced by Buzz Lightyear|
Google is cracking down on unsupported video files being uploaded to its Photos platform and taking up free storage space.
With a nickname like 'bokeh master,' we had to see what the Sigma 105mm F1.4 was all about. Take a look at our gallery of samples shot with the Sony a7R III.
The Nikon Museum in Shinagawa, Tokyo has an exhibition showing off some of the most rare and unique prototype lenses Nikon ever developed.
VSCO has announced it will stop selling its film emulation presets for desktop programs March 1st, 2019.
On their latest models the two smartphone manufacturers have replaced the dreaded display notch by a design that features a circular hole for the front camera in the display.
With the latest version, Adobe Camera now lets you import Raw files from the newest iPhones, Pixel devices, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Nikon Z6 among others.
The Nikon Z6 may not offer the incredible resolution of its sibling, the Z7, but its 24MP resolution is more than enough for most people, and the money saved can buy a lot of glass. Find out what's new and notable about the Z6 in our First Impressions Review.
Sigma says its 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport lens is set to hit shelves by the end of December 2018 at a retail price of $1,499.
DxO PhotoLab 2.1 brings a collection of new features to MacOS and Windows users alike.
The new 'Elegant' lens series includes entirely manual F2.4 lenses in 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm focal lengths.
A feature alerts pilots visually and/or verbally when their drone is approaching airspace that is unsafe or areas where drone flying is not permitted.
GoPro announced Monday morning that it plans to move production of United States-bound cameras out of China, citing tariffs concerns.
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 combines a sensible sub-$500 price tag and excellent performance, providing a portrait-friendly 85mm equiv. view on Sony's APS-C mirrorless cameras.
Azriel Knight of the YouTube channel This Old Camera explains the history of DX encoding.
The 250mm F4 is Fujifilm's longest lens for its medium-format system. It's equivalent to about 200mm on a GFX camera, and we put it to work on some portraits as well as some scenes around Seattle's waterfront – take a look.
Sony has removed the ability to download firmware version 2.0 for its a7 III and a7R III mirrorless cameras from its website.
Handing out awards for the best gear of the year is a big job, so we called in some reinforcements from Calgary to help us.
A new patent from Canon lays out the schematics for a speedbooster-style adapter for mounting Canon EF lenses onto EOS M cameras, but with a variable baffle to reduce the risk of flare.
The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board has started a campaign asking visitors to stop geotagging their specific locations when visiting Wyoming's national parks.
Film simulation app Filmborn has been updated with new presets, features, and overall improved support on Apple's latest mobile operating system and devices.
The Colorado Tripod Company has introduced what it claims is the world’s first titanium tripod system, with a funding campaign on Kickstarter.
We've been shooting with the LX100 II both in and out of the studio, as part of our ongoing review. We're pretty impressed, so far, with the revised JPEG color and addition of a touchscreen both noticeable improvements.
An upcoming Xiaomi smartphone might use a 48MP sensor for pixel-binning, high-quality digital zooming and other algorithm-powered imaging features.
It's not cheap, but you may soon be able to get your hands on peel apart film once again thanks to ONE INSTANT.
Skylum's Luminar 3 arrives on December 18 with the long-awaited ability to manage your photo library. However, it won't be a full DAM (digital asset manager); the company plans to roll out features throughout 2019 and won't charge for updates from Luminar 2018 during that time.
Hasselblad has released an update to its Phocus post-production software that brings new and updated tools, as well as updated native lens support.
Nikon's IPTC Preset Manager, a tool for creating predetermined sets of metadata, has received an update. Version 1.1.0 no longer uses Microsoft Silverlight, sheds the network connection requirement, adds extended language support, updates support for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, and ends support for Windows Vista and Windows XP.
Insta360 has launched a software update for its One X 360-degree camera and announced a camera bundle exclusively available on Apple.com.
Xiaomi has laid out the details for its new AI-powered image processing platform DeepExposure.